Derek! Is it Derek? It seems to be him but he's unimaginably more evil looking, as if that's even possible!
Two hollow circles beam down at me in a faint red glow. Irises like cherries on an ice cream sundae beating down make me shrivel before him. It's very dark in this part of the woods but his eyes glimmer as if back lit, absorbing all the light and bouncing it back out of the depths.
I feel the color leave my face, 'This isn't real, This isn't happening!' my head repeats the word as my structured reality crumbles before my eyes.
White is gleaming from his mouth as his lips stretch exposing a row of deadly looking teeth. The teeth are progressively sharper as they reveal themselves. The two middle teeth look pretty average but each that follow appear aggressively more lethal by comparison. I shudder, if the pattern keeps up the back teeth must be like daggers!
I'm stunned, eyes so wide they should pop out of my skull. I'm unable to breathe, as if frozen in time, like I've been thrown into the vacuum of space. Oxygen and sound become nonexistent.
Resentment intensifies in the glowing eyes focusing on my quivering figure.
I hear a distinct crunch as I'm suddenly flying backwards through the dark trees smashing into one of them.
Nauseated I resist the urge to throw up while the forest view sways as if loose in a raging tide. I come to, wincing with every shaky breath. I'm hardly able to locate where the pain is coming from, it's like every nerve in my body is on fire.
Numbness sets in with the exception of my chest and back, which feels like I was kicked from both sides by two horses at the same time. Some ribs are definitely broken.
Blood splatters out of my mouth with the quickened breaths, sending sharp pains all over my torso. I'm blinking rapidly trying to find a focal point as I take those short excruciating pants.
My vision goes haywire and those menacing red eyes are everywhere. I can't do anything, I'm doomed.
No longer do I feel the tree at my back or the ground beneath me, just cold hands lifting me high by my throat. My legs twitch and seizure as my arms autopilot, trying to pull myself up to the air I'm deprived. I can feel myself passing out as the dark circles close in around my peripherals.
Oxygen is sliding slowly down my airway as I regain consciousness. Blood is pulsing through my head painfully and I realize one eye is swollen shut. The pain only amplifies the confusion. I can only hear the muffled blood sloshing in my ears and ragged breathes slithering through my pipes as I'm sprawled on the weedy floor like a rag doll.
I'm not immediately aware of the red eyed demon delicately holding my wrist as he's bent over me. He's completely mesmerized by it. That hand hurts much more than the other, I recall it being the one with shards of glass lodged inside. I was on such an adrenaline high it never occurred to me how bad the wound actually was. It looks really bad and feels worse. Sticky, wet and miserable.
The blood trickles over my palm rolling down my arm. He bends his face to my arm, closing those terrible eyes as his mouth parts. He licks the trail of blood from lower forearm to the base of my hand in a slow fluid motion.
"Am I awake?" The thought comes out as an incoherent mumble. 'This nightmare is real... This is really happening!'
His eyes flash over at my fading demeanor. He licks his lips, taking in the taste as if it's something truly savory. Out of nowhere, he plunges his imminent teeth with amazing force into my wrist. A sharp inhale sounds as he strikes, it's a mixture between a growl and a hiss. A frail squeal escapes my throat but comes out as a groan.
My breath quickens with every pulse, he seems to be pulling my life force at an accelerated pace. Every inhale is short like a hyperventilation but the exhales are too feeble.
He pulls himself off my wrist and sighs with visible intoxication. His motions are a smooth blur. My vision is focusing and unfocusing like putting on and taking off prescription eyeglasses over and over.
Is this the same Derek? Aside from looking truly demonic he's almost identical, even sporting the chemical burn on his face, although the injury is not as severe as I remember it to be. My eyelids flutter trying to stay present.
'What?' He's gone, just vanished. Was he ever really here? My numb body continues to pulse and throb violently only adding to the woozy sensation in my spinning head.
I take as deep a breath as I can muster, struggling to get the much needed oxygen. I hear a crackle in my ribs as my lungs expand, a pang of stark agony ripples through.
My limbs are starting to feel cold, especially my bloodied arm with it's wide lacerations on the palm and wrist.
If I weren't in such horrible shape I would have leapt out of my skin noticing Derek on the opposite side of me, kneeling over my mangled frame. His face is so close to mine. I'm lost in his hellish crimson orbs sucking me in like a vortex. I inhale a drawn out wheeze for far too long before my ribs stunt the action.
He breaks contact to examine my throat and begins to push my head to the side. I tremble as tears escape the ducts and roll down my dirty face, damp from previous ones that had already left their stains.
A gurgled yelp erupts from my mouth as strong jowls clamp down on my jugular making it harder to think.
I'm panicked but too exhausted to do anything, my breathing is labored as it becomes bubbly and wet, lungs filling slowly as I sink into a dread filled state. My heavy head feels as if it's becoming a part of the ground. My soul is being torn from my neck.
I'm going to drown the blood trickling slowly down into my airway or simply bleed out, courtesy of a bloodthirsty cannibal. Both options sound fantastic.
'I'm going to die here... Now?' my thoughts are cloud thickening over my brain.
"Why?" my lips barely move and no words come out, only choked gurgles.
'I don't want to...not here...' The blues and blacks of the wilderness I lay in becoming a fuzzy mess around me.
Suddenly a peculiar shape emerges as I cling to my fading vitality. Gasping horrible, watery heaves I make out what I think to be a lean hooded figure in the distance among the trees. A cape flowing elegantly in the gentle wind.
'A Reaper? Is a grim reaper coming for me? Am I dead?' My aching fingers dig into the soil.
'NO! I'm not dead! Not here, not...!' I can't speak, it's all just jumbled shrieking in my dizzy brain.
I feel the pressure from my neck release as the soul sucking comes to a halt. I hear Derek say something, though I can't make it out. It's like I'm submerged under water.
There is silence as I struggle to turn my heavy head to look at my attacker, ears clearing a little as I do so. He's looking straight in the direction of my grim reaper. Can he see it too?
He speaks again, "You're no Reaper... get out of here! She is mine!" A bit of alarm laces his voice but it's overpowered by intrepid possession. 'Is he afraid?' I look over to see if the Reaper is still there.
I feel despair sink in as the looming figure remains in the exact same spot. An omen of my demise.
Derek lowers himself to me again. I say a prayer of gibberish as the words aren't really making sense right now, trying to jerk myself back awake every time unconsciousness threatens me. The only thing that really makes sense right now is the fear. An unshakable, staggering fear.
A grisly gag chokes down my throat, suffocating in reaction to what I'm witnessing. The stone reaper is now rocketing toward us with supernatural speed. His feet don't even seem to touch the ground as he glides like a horrifying apparition of the night.
A feral growl from my side lifts the hair on the back of my neck. Derek is no longer by my side, but on his feet, crouched in a defensive position.
The Reaper leaps through the air and over my body like a gallant steed, diving into Derek and knocking him a great distance back. I hear the friction from Derek's sneakers as he skids over weeds and stones, but somehow retains his balance, remaining sturdy on his feet.
I take a watery breath. It's hard to comprehend what's happening. My clouded mind and poor physical condition hinder my ability to really understand the unbelievable scene playing out. They seem to be moving too fast, it's blurry.
Derek recovers quickly and strikes out, a deadly claw ripping into the arm of the Reaper. In an instant, the dark figure slides to the side, locking Derek's aggressing arm into an expert hold. An action so alien it looks like teleportation.
A guttural howl surges through the night as the sound of crunching bones and the muffled stretch of flesh tearing apart accompanies it.
The limb flies off with bloodied rain pattering the earth. Derek's severed arm slaps the ground and rolls to a stop with a few bouncy thuds across the wild grass.
Enraged, Derek's howl turns into a roar as he swipes at the Reaper's gut making contact by the sound of the fabric tearing paired with a wet filleting noise.
A hollowed hiss slithers out from under the hood of the reaper and a cobra like hand snaps up Derek's remaining arm. With uncanny swiftness and poise, he moves the limb in an unnatural way that should have broken it. More severe pops and snaps seem to echo inside my ears. I'd flinch away if I had the strength.
The reaper then sweeps Derek as if he were his dance partner flipping him on his back.
In a flash, he then zips over to the other side of Derek. An unsettling snarl fills the woods as he circles.
Derek twists back on his feet, crouched low. His solo hand to the ground, shuffling backwards away from his foe smoothly as if he were sliding on ice. Treacherous red eyes beam as clear as daylight, warning to stay back.
The Reaper's cloak swirls and ripples as he pursues Derek, not allowing him to create much of a gap between them. The robed figure ignores his challenger's defensive position, still drifting closer with miraculous velocity.
Derek abruptly stops backing up, coming to an immediate halt, raring to charge like a wild bull. He lunges with his mouth wide for the kill, aiming to latch on the robed creature's throat.
Like magnets, the Reaper's hands fasten under the chin and the top of Derek's head, catching him in midair leaving only half a foot between snapping fangs and his own vitals.
A haunting cry like no animal I've heard lingers in the air as the Reaper slashes into Derek's fleshy neck with it's own wicked jaws. The ghoulish sound harmonizes with the disgusting crushing and slurping, like someone biting into an overly ripe peach combined with watermelon smashing on the floor.
The Reaper rips more than half of Derek's neck out with a vicious yank. Derek's face looks absolutely frightening as the light slowly fades from his eyes. His body automatically responding, clasping his paling existence.
The sound of his nonstop gurgled gasps was both scaring and nauseating. The hood leans back into the mutilated neck, lapping greedily at the remains.
Without warning, the Reaper is looking straight at me, his face visible. Skeleton faced with blade like teeth, black eyes plunging into me.
Frozen in horror I can only blink, but it must have been a hallucination. After blinking the reaper is back to ingesting Derek's remains, the face completely concealed by the low hanging hood. It jolts me back to cognizance. Though, I no longer see the bleached bone face, the haunting image burns into my brain with permanence.
I can't help but wonder if this is all an illusion. Devilish Derek and a murderous Reaper? None of this seems real, more like a hellish nightmare! 'I'm still alive, right?'
The hood pulls away aggressively, a hand like a sword plunges into Derek's chest pulling out a chunk of flesh. A heart?
The sound is absolutely revolting like a fist being shoved into a glass jar full to the brim with jam. This is happening so fast, I feel myself blacking out more frequently, before jerking back awake, only prolonging the inevitable.
'Am I going to die next to Derek's butchered corpse? If I'm not dead already.' I hear the cloaked monster crushing the slab of meat retrieved from Derek's chest cavity as he lowers the organ into his dark hood. The sickening slurps of the reaper devouring the heart snake through the atmosphere.
'No, I'm not dead yet.' I can feel my body clinging to life though it's stiff and cold. I can feel my lungs drowning in bloody breaths. It's extremely agonizing, but I'm too afraid to let myself go. I'm immobilized by the fear of actually dying.
I lose sight of the Reaper, I would have thought it too was a hallucination if Derek's ravaged carcass wasn't flung unceremoniously on the ground.
I'm thrown into an unbearable coughing fit when I get a lung full of blood, rather than oxygen. I must be next on death's door.
I stiffen as my lungs cry for air while my ribs cry for morphine. I somehow manage to pull in just enough oxygen to feed my dying organs a little longer.
A rippling cloak catches my glazed eyes. The reaper is standing over me, peering down. The oversized hood obscures his features. I can't see anything in the hood except two ethereal, icy rings glowing brightly. The irises of two eyes fixed on my face.
He's coming to reap me. I begin to plead with him, the decision is completely unmindful.
"Gafmmm," blood spews out of my mouth as I try to plead 'save me'.
I grab a hold in desperation to the edge of the cloak as if it's my true lifeline. The eerie blue circles shift inside the dark hood to look at my anemic grip on his cloak then back to my sickly face.
There's a long pause before words of an angel sail on the airwaves dancing into my ears to answer my incomprehensible plea.
"You've lost too much blood and he's punctured your air passage, you can't be saved," the voice is beautiful and unexpectedly feminine but the words are cold and unfeeling.
'This is it then?' I feel true hopelessness wash over me as my vitals begin to shut down. 'I can hang on just a little longer. What will I.. I.. what?' I can hardly form a cognitive thought. I grip the robes even tighter and stare into those frosty eyes, it's the only thing I can do.
'I'm stronger than this.' Determination takes hold to beat away the fear, discovering a new found strength within me and a sense of courage creeps in.
'So be it, the Reaper has won, but I'm going to live the rest of my life, even if it's only for a few more seconds.' I hold the Reaper's haunting gaze for what feels like harrowing hours though it's likely only a minute or two. My stiff fingers don't release the fabric of the cloak and the Reaper is like a stone before me, only the cape twirling loose in the wind.
I try to hold on as long as I can, never blinking once, until blackness finally consumes me.
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